‘No police at games is the way forward’
Chief backing big pull-out
A TOP city cop believes the Dons could soon play some games with no police presence inside their ground.
The issue of fan behaviour is firmly in the spotlight given unsavoury incidents involving the Old Firm this season.
Les Gray, head of the Scottish Police Federation, went so far as suggesting clashes between Rangers and Celtic should be played behind closed doors.
However, the match commander at a large number of Aberdeen’s home games is pleased with the way supporters generally conduct themselves at Pittodrie.
By the time the Dons move to their new community stadium at Loirston, planned for 2013, chief superintendent Adrian Watson reckons there may be no need for police to attend lower category fixtures.
He said: “We are trying to move away from football and get far more community focused, which is not necessarily about being at Pittodrie in huge numbers.
“What the folk out there are telling us is that they want us in their communities dealing with the issues that really matter.
“What we are trying to do is move away to an extent, where some of the lower category games will almost be police free.
“That’s the way we want to go forward, particularly with the new stadium.
“For a match such as Aberdeen against Hibs, right now, we could have an inspector, a sergeant and maybe a dozen cops.
“I have looked south of the border, where they have some games where there are more than 20,000 fans and no cops at the ground. Why wouldn’t we get to that here?”
So if there are no police constables inside the stadium, who would be responsible for keeping the fans in check?
C h i e f S u p t Wa t s o n s a i d : “Stewards. As we come out, they up their game so we can be assured there is safety to suit everyone.”
Part of his role sees Chief Supt Watson work closely with the Dons, while also getting involved with national issues involving the game.
He is a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland football sub-committee.
That involves dealing with various subjects, from sectarianism, to the prospect of playing games on Friday nights.
He said: “Coventry have a stadium very much what the Aberdeen Arena may look like.
“I was there trying to get a sense of safety within the ground.
“On that day they had no police officers in the stadium for a game against Scunthorpe with 16,000 folk there. “That’s where we want to get to.” However, Grampian Police Chief Supt Watson admits hosting Old Firm matches at Pittodrie offers other challenges to deal with, such